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New Year's Eve
NEW YEAR’S EVE
It seemed like a normal enough Saturday evening. My dad was sprawled on the couch with two empty beer bottles lying next to him, drool dripping down the side of his face. There were orange stains on his Nantucket t-shirt from the Cheetos he had been eating earlier. My mom was fretting over the circle that was seeping into our wooden coffee table, being the result of my brother not using a coaster for his drink. Mom was all “you don’t know how much we spend on this” and “you’re in seventh grade, Jack, you should know better.” Her little wine was not I wanted to hear tonight.
To be honest, all I wanted to do was sit front of the TV, eat a few two may bowls of fruit loops, and watch the New Year’s Eve Special with Ryan Seacrest. I mean, was that really too much to ask?
The problem with that is, Dad doesn’t like to watch the New Year’s Eve special like a normal person. He watches this weird boxing event that apparently happens every New Year’s Eve. “This doesn’t happen every day, Taylor,” he would remark just about every year I asked him to switch the channel, “Only on New Year’s Eve
“Yeah,” I would usually respond, “it sucks that you can’t watch just a normal boxing match. Every. Single. Night.” By then, he usually would have turned up the volume just so he didn’t have to hear me talk. Nice dad, right?
Luckily, Dad has started to fall asleep at around 11:00 these days. It was ten minutes to twelve, and he had been asleep for over half an hour. Maybe for the first time in my life, I could actually see the ball drop in Time Square rather than a bunch of guys with no teeth putting dents in each others heads.
I snatched the remote out of Dad’s limp hand, and found the channel. Lady GaGa was performing one of her new songs. I used to actually like her, I even had a few of her songs. Then once she wore that meat dress, I just got confused. I mean, I get “making a statement” or whatever, but ruining perfectly good meat? Not so much.
Lady GaGa finished performing, then it was back to Ryan Seacrest. “Just minutes away from the magical moment when we watch the crystal ball drop one hundred feet…” said Ryan Seacrest cheerfully. I sat down on the ground with my cereal in a blue ceramic bowl. The milk and cereal were perfectly proportioned.
“Taylor, will you tell your brother how ridiculous he’s being?” My mom hollers. I don’t respond. I hear someone walk away and slam a door. I wasn’t sure who it was, but then when I heard the fluffing of a pillow, I assume it was Jack who had left.
I didn’t know what made Mom like this. Jack thought it might have been her first marriage. Mom never talks about it. “Nothing to tell,” she would mutter whenever I asked her about it. “Just a high school sweetheart.”
The countdown for the New Year begins on the screen, Ryan Seacrest and the rest of New York chanting along. 30, 29, 28…
Sometimes Dad would make a few wise remarks about Andrew, the name of Mom’s mystery ex. She would just give him the “not in front of the kids” look and he would shut up. 22, 21, 20…
I do remember once when I was young, he came to see us. I specifically remembered Mom yelling. “You shouldn’t be here,” she said, “we’re over.” 19, 18, 17…
So what is the answer to this disaster of this puzzle? The question has been gnawing at my brain for years. 15, 14, 13…
I stop thinking about Mom and her problems. Frankly, I have my own. 10, 9, 8…
I hear Dad wake up. “What is this crap were watching?” he asks, moaning. “Shut up, Dad,” I said, holding my head in my hands. I was going to see the ball drop. 6, 5, 4…
“Three, two, one,” I say to myself. Somewhere in the world, there’s a family where all of the kids blew one of this little twirly things, making an annoying kazoo sound. They all hug and squeal, “Happy New Year!”
Hell, maybe the perfect family of my imagination isn’t out there. All I know is if it is, it’s not mine.
“Happy New Year’s,” I muttered to myself.